Up For Debate - How Will the Epic Games Store Defeat Steam?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Feb 2, 2019 2:34 PM
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Right now we’re in the midst of one heck of a land grab. Bolstered by the Fortnite billions, Epic is not only looking to take on PC gaming’s biggest institution, it’s looking to crush it.

Valve has enjoyed well over a decade of unchecked dominance in the PC gaming scene. If you had a game worth playing, you made sure you launched it through the only PC sales platform a lot of people think is worth using. Steam has been the one-stop shop for everything PC games, but its dominance over the biggest names in gaming isn’t so much eroding as it is in danger of a full-blown landslide.

EA? Long gone thanks to its own Origin store. Bethesda? It looks like curtains for Bethesda’s future games on Steam. Activision? Joined forces with Battle.net. Ubisoft? It looks likely Far Cry New Dawn could be the final Ubisoft Steam release. Metro Exodus? Gone. The Division 2? Gone. Fortnite, the biggest game in the world? It never even needed Steam.

There’s an argument to be made then that Valve has already lost its vice-like grip on PC gaming. Steam isn’t the only game client you need any more.

But, aside from Fortnite, there’s still little proof that avoiding Steam can actually achieve success. Ubisoft briefly flirted with Uplay exclusivity before it came crawling back. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has become a wasteland on PC. And, well, it’s hard to judge how well Fallout 76 would’ve done on Steam when it’s become such a high-profile failure anyway.

The likes of Epic can pay for the games but it can’t just pay for trust  or loyalty. Epic’s store needs to be a platform gamers want to use, not forced to use because there’s no other choice. And, with Epic’s current barebones feature set, it's difficult to argue a reason you’d want to use its storefront over anywhere else.

So no matter how deep Epic’s pockets, it’s got an uphill battle on its hands that can’t necessarily be solved by just throwing cash around. Games like Metro Exodus will sell less now they’re exclusive to the Epic Store. One of the most anticipated PC games of the audience will have a fraction of the audience it would’ve if it were on Steam. That’s a fact. In this situation, you’ve got to feel for developer 4A Games, who would’ve had little say in the matter. Money talks though, and you can bet an absolute boat-load was thrown Deep Silver’s way to get this deal done.

And while the games will surely help, Epic surely needs to make the Epic Games Store is a great, feature-rich experience that can actually deserve the label of ‘Steam competitor’. It needs cloud saves, for god’s sake. It needs chat overlays, a workable storefront, regional pricing, consumer-friendly refunds, discussion boards, user reviews, and big sales. It needs a whole lot which, right now, it doesn’t seem like Epic is even particularly interested in. Instead, it’s moneyhat time.

Which got me thinking about how deep Epic’s pockets are. Very deep, I suspect is the answer. Epic has billions of dollars and it will spend billions until this works. It needs to make this work before the cash cow that is Fortnite runs out of milk.

If I’m sat in Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s chair I’ve got one game on my right now. It’s a little thing called Red Dead Redemption 2. And I’ve sat there running the numbers around my head, and they’re definitely absurd. A small percentage loss in sales could cost Rockstar hundreds of millions of dollars. Bringing RDR2 to the Epic Store and getting, say, half the sales it would’ve on Steam, represents a massive loss. A loss that Rockstar would want to be recouped by Epic. But what an accomplishment it would be for Epic. What a reason it would have for millions and millions to install its game client. That's not to say it’ll happen, but I’m these chats have happened, or at the very least are going to happen, and Epic will stop at little to find a way to loosen the valve on Steam’s dominance.

There’s a couple of points to debate here. Firstly, do you think the Epic Games Store will eventually topple Steam as the biggest PC gaming client? Vote in the poll and let us know why below. And secondly, whether it does or doesn’t, how do you believe Epic is going to try to beat Steam? Share your thoughts with us below, and hopefully, Sweeney isn’t watching...

Will the Epic Games Store becoming bigger than Steam?

Our favourite comments:

GOG is the real hero

Ozone9012

In my opinion, Epic Games Store doesn't have any chance of becoming bigger than Steam. They are devloping a very developer oriented marketplace however an almost anti-consumer one. They are giving the devs everything they could ask for while forcibly trying to get us to use their feature-light service. A lot of PC gamers are very invested in Steam. It has been here for about 13 years, we have big libraries and fond memories with our Steam friends. It will take a lot more than paying third party publishers for 12 month exclusivity to get some goodwill in the PC industry.

Epic will be fine for now. Fortnite is still doing great so it can support their aggressive pushes. But what if, by the time most gamers move to something else, EPG doesn't manage to get a good amount of ppl on board?

Ozone9012

Steam is almost like YouTube, sure alternatives exist, but how many people truly want to use others? It has become so big and powerful with so many features over the years, Valve would really need to screw up or somebody else would have to be so much better in order to truly beat Steam at this point.

danydaniel2

Steam is a great term for a general marketplace that just dishes out content to everyone. It just works. Epic Games does not embody the same logic and Epic Games Store is an extension of service through Epic games. Valve separated their name from Steam and is only loosely associated with the company in mind and in practice. Names mean a lot. Now if Valve had their own unreal engine and digital asset store, what would happen?

Zeliron

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09:50 Feb-06-2019

Between Steam and Gog the "hotel is already sold out" but Epic may find a way with small devs that do not wish to pay 30 % to Steam, you must also consider the windows store, and the contract that big pub, have with Valve, the only way Epic can avoid a fail is if they host your game for free if is devd, with Unreal engine, if they do this than they may survive.

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19:18 Feb-05-2019

Steam is almost like YouTube, sure alternatives exist, but how many people truly want to use others? It has become so big and powerful with so many features over the years, Valve would really need to screw up or somebody else would have to be so much better in order to truly beat Steam at this point.

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16:19 Feb-05-2019

no

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20:03 Feb-04-2019

They won't. People won't fall for Epic thankfully, only a few morons will, but they won't make a difference. Let's not forget that even just a couple years ago Epic called all PC Gamers pirates but now they want our money...

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18:45 Feb-04-2019

peoples payed a lot of money for games on steam and epic thinks because a lot of peoples play fortnite they are going to beat steam

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18:22 Feb-03-2019

With someone rich as Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO, behind the wheel, they have a chance at overtaking Steam.


The only real problem is how so many would be unwilling to switch given how so many have been with Steam for so many years now.


I can understand why, there's nothing more convenient than having all your stuff under one roof.


Though giving out a game free every 2 weeks is an excellent start.

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16:34 Feb-03-2019

I can't see the EPic store becoming bigger than Steam. It's very feature-light so far, not very consumer-centric, doesn't (yet) pass any savings to us. But they have money to bribe the publishers, as has been seen with Metro and Deep Silver, so...maybe by brute force.

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15:50 Feb-03-2019

You never know ! Steam isn't my relative and Epic Games isn't my enemy either. But Epic Games will win for me only when they will be launching more currencies for different regions.

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11:27 Feb-03-2019

Welcome!

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03:31 Feb-03-2019

Steam is a great term for a general marketplace that just dishes out content to everyone. It just works. Epic Games does not embody the same logic and Epic Games Store is an extension of service through Epic games. Valve separated their name from Steam and is only loosely associated with the company in mind and in practice. Names mean a lot. Now if Valve had their own unreal engine and digital asset store, what would happen?

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01:39 Feb-03-2019

here is the difference between steam and epic
steam has cloud save/user profiles/forum/mod distribution/friends list and chats/groups/item trading/library sorting/account sharing/streaming to other devices/broadcasting/wish lists/users created guides/screenshots capture.
epic has only friends list and chats

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22:55 Feb-02-2019

Even if they never become bigger than Steam competition is always good. Although with the limited number of games they have right now, and giving away 2 games a month, I wonder what they will have left to sell.

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11:19 Feb-03-2019

Yeah competition is good, for the publishers, not us in this case.

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20:04 Feb-04-2019

The only problem is that Epic doesn't want to be competition but want a monopoly, hence why they pay off publishers. That's not a good thing at all, it's the opposite of good, it's horrible for the customer.

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22:21 Feb-02-2019

I dont think Epic is going to get anywhere unless they show some goodwill towards the customers and not just the Publishers. I know they have started by implementing a refund policy and some other things, but its gunna be along road.

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21:49 Feb-02-2019

I don't partake in predictions. When all is said and done opinions don't make reality, actions do.

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21:19 Feb-02-2019

Let's just hope what happened to Metro does not happen to RDR2 for PC this wil be very bad for Rockstar if they do what DeepSliver did to the PC gaming community makeing thier newset game an Epic Store BS exclusivity for a year.


It better not happen.

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08:06 Feb-03-2019

rockstar has their own social club, they hardly need Epic store or steam

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08:36 Feb-03-2019

they don't need steam, but most GTAs on PC are sold on PC, they probably won't launch the next one on steam, or maybe they will if it's way too successful for them to care.

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21:19 Feb-02-2019

The closest gaming client with any chance of beating steam in the future is GoG. If there is a game i want and it's available on GoG and Steam, I chose always the first one, cause I buy the game, not rent it.

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21:02 Feb-02-2019

Nope, I highly doubt it will be that easy. I mean it would be really hard to undo a decade of Steam being on the throne and people liking Steam. However,I do believe that they could compete, however only time can tell if they will grow. They have a chance, they are pretty aggressively trying by catering to developers.

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21:04 Feb-02-2019

But they will fight uphill battle. First of all Steam had a long time to become what it is right now. 95% of what Steam is today wasn't present when it first came out. Plus people like Steam. And I don't think Epic will become bigger, but they could compete and definitely coexist next to the Steam.

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21:06 Feb-02-2019

However Epic is aggressively trying to compete and they are doing it smartly. Since they are catering to developers, to get them on their side. Because no matter how hard you try it, without developers and games, you have absolutely no chance, it is like tree without roots, or fish without water.

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21:08 Feb-02-2019

However, we will see if they can also get customers on their side. I mean they are improving. Since release they did match Steam refund policy. They also will ad optional user reviews developers can choose to enable. Not best solution, but at lest step in the right way. So time will tell.

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21:08 Feb-02-2019

doing it smartly? so far their store exclusivity have done nothing but turn off gamers

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21:09 Feb-02-2019

They will eventually get enough developer support to where they will be able to cater to customer more than developers. Steam has luxury here by having already established platform and ton of customers already on board. Hence why they won't overtake Steam anytime soon.

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21:11 Feb-02-2019

@TheJusticeHobbit
Who is turned off, loud minority or majority? I will buy game regardless of the store, if game is good. And so will majority, even if largely consistent of more casual audience. And as I said, store is nothing if you don't have games. People will just go to Steam and not care. You need something.

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21:12 Feb-02-2019

@TheJusticeHobbit
And just to add, Steam also didn't have install base when it came out. Install base came when we were forced to install Steam because it was only way to play Half-Life 2. That is how Steam got initial wave of users. Otherwise most people hated Steam back then. Same as Epic today.

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20:54 Feb-02-2019

well that's a obvious answer.... it won't

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19:25 Feb-02-2019

GOG is the only store that matters to me. It's the only one that is consumer friendly by having an anti DRM policy. I would be delighted if all future titles would be DRM free and stores like steam, UWP, origin,.. would close.

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19:30 Feb-02-2019

Thing is, with such a policy you aren't really fighting the whole thing, you're just "forcing" publishers into the hands of the next, or their own shop.
I don't want any shop to close, I want games to be released on as many shops as possible instead of this stupid shop exclusivity.

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19:03 Feb-02-2019

It won't.

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